August 12, 2007

Textbook prices

University of Texas-Austin accounting Professor Michael Granof has a fascinating proposal for textbook licensing arrangements that is a sensible response to some of the nuttier proposals to address the real textbook-price problem.We had an impractical suggestion come out of the legislature in Florida this spring, but it fortunately died at the end of the session.

Granof proposed that colleges license the content of textbooks from publishers, and students could then have their choice of electronic versions or hard-copy prices that would be much lower. Granof's proposal is a mirror of the software world, where everyone recognizes that the stuff (the program) is more important than the CD it came on.

The beauty of Granof's proposal is that it would address the problem of the most expensive course readings (textbooks), provide a market incentive for publishers to focus on the quality of texts and not the new-edition nonsense that has been their primary response to the used-text market, still allow the flowering of public-domain and open-source electronic texts, and avoid interfering with instructional decisions.

Bravo.

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Posted in Higher education on August 12, 2007 9:53 AM |